Calling all high school sophomores and juniors. College application preparations shouldn’t wait until the summer before your senior year. That’s why Charlotte Klaar, director of Klaar College
Consulting LLC, has some tips to offer to get students on the right track.
1. Earn “good grades”
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But Klaar said the key to this is that high school students taking a curriculum they can be successful in. Sometimes parents feel the pressure to push students into Advanced Placement and honors courses that might not be at their aptitude levels.
“I’m not saying that they shouldn’t try, but AP courses move really fast and a student needs to be willing and able to do the work,” Klaar said.
She added college admissions counselors are going to look more fondly on As and Bs on the transcript even if it’s not an honors course than Cs and Ds in AP courses and non-submitted AP tests.
Parents might want to evaluate their school’s advanced options. Maybe your student best fits in AP History or English rather than AP Calculus.
2. Find activities you’re passionate about (don’t just fill your resume)
Create a “meaningful” resume, Klaar said. This means not filling up a student’s resume with 15 clubs and activities that he barely participates in. Students should find activities they’re genuinely passionate about and devote time to it. This also will help the student find out what’s important to them.
However, Klaar cautions video games shouldn’t be considered an “activity” on the list, as she reflects that as “escaping from life.” Parents should make sure to get students off the couch once in a while.
3. Look for leadership opportunities
Students should always push for first chair or the lead in the play, but not everyone can be president of the club. Klaar suggests students continue to look for leadership opportunities within their passions, such as taking on a committee role or serving as the school play’s director. Hard workers that are positioned underneath the president are just as important.
4. Plug into volunteer service
Volunteering pushes students out of the “center of the universe perspective,” Klaar said. She encourages students to find a cause they’re passionate about. If a student is in the band, see if he can find a way to share that talent with others. Find a meaningful activity.
Also, those experiences will come in handy later when you need to write an admissions essay.
Klaar suggests student-athletes volunteer with the Special Olympics, as the athletes can teach participants the sport and can provide a lesson in perseverance.
5. Start asking self-awareness questions
What Klaar said is most important to college preparations is generating important questions students need to think about for their futures. What are they good at? How do they like to spend their day?
Do they like rural settings or the city life? Do they like feeling like a big fish in a small pond or the opposite? What is my financial situation?
A 15-, 16- or 17-year-old most likely won’t have the definite answers to all these questions, but it’s important to get the ball rolling. This can place certain colleges and career paths off the table in the future.
6. Be realistic
When students are looking for a college, they need to look at fit (the lifestyle the student wants to live) and match (refers to the numbers – i.e. unweighted GPA or ACT/SAT score).
If a student’s score falls within the middle 50 percent, that’s a target school for students. Klaar believes if the student’s scores fall at the upper part of the 50 percent, that’s likely the school for that student. Students should apply to “dream” schools, but Klaar doesn’t recommend applying for eight of them.
They also need to do their due diligence when evaluating a school. Schools conduct data-mining and look at how interested students are in their college. Did they visit the school? Do they spend time looking at the email materials the school sent? Did they meet with the school representative when he visited the school?
Students should ensure they’re on the right track through semester visits with their guidance counselors. Klaar encourages students to visit their counselors to ensure they’re being realistic about their expectations.
Charlotte Klaar provides personalized college consulting. Contact 803-487-9777 or visit www.cklaar.com for more information.